Thanks Erik for taking the time to talk with you about your new venture “Best of All Worlds“. In order for us to give people some context to your new venture, perhaps you can tell me how you went from A Small World to “Best of All Worlds”.
A. After working as an investment banker for 20 years, I started to think of online opportunities in 1998. To me the Internet immediately presented incredible opportunities to aggregate and leverage human mind and behavior. My wife, Louise Wachtmeister, and I launched ASMALLWORLD in March 2004 and were true pioneers in Social Media. We were able to transfer people’s real life relations on-line, enabling them to reconnect with each other. We had 250,000 active online connectors globally in 2006 when Facebook was just emerging from colleges in the US. This was the start of a new industry and very few understood the relevance and magnitude of this.
I had realized since many years the existence of a global community of people who are strongly connected and continuously gravitate towards each other. This came to me after having lived in and travelled to many places across the globe, running into the same people over and over again, looking for the same things.
My vision is not about excluding people. On the contrary, it has to do with creating an intimate environment where you can let your hair down and feel at ease when interacting with friends of friends or new relationships that share common interests. My goal with BestofallWorlds is to help people getting together around the world to build new businesses, start strong friendships and learn from each other. To create an atmosphere where people can be more accessible, accommodating strangers as friends. It’s the kind of intimacy that has not generally existed before on the World Wide Web.
Today there is still a huge vacuum that all social networks have failed to cover, and which has nothing to do with the ‘collecting connections’ approach so prevalent everywhere today. Facebook provides an effective way of indexing people’s relationships and reconnecting with the past. BestofAllWorlds will be focusing on helping people build new relationships that are relevant for your present and future life. By entering secure global groups on BAW that correspond to mutual interests, users will grow and develop new useful and relevant relationships. We will continually leverage the best new technology available, in order to provide services to our members and to global niche interest groups. Being an agile platform, the most recent technology will be available as we will be aggregating rather than reinventing the wheel. Our users will also be able to access and post directly to their walls and feeds in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and many other services, without leaving BestofallWorlds. Thus the best of all worlds!
We live in a world of increasing information saturation and overload. As more and more people upload videos, documents and photos on to the web, it’s becoming harder and harder to find what we are looking for. We need to think about the “signal-to-noise ratio”, particularly online. People need tools to filter out what is relevant to them, whether it is finding good places to eat, nannies, vacation homes, useful I-phone or Ipad Apps, or cool services available on line. By creating an intimate atmosphere of people you trust and can learn from, the ratio naturally increases to help you find the relevant signals among the noise. That way it becomes easier to find relevant, useful and unbiased information.
What also distinguishes Best of All Worlds is that anybody will be able to join the platform; once in, they will find their way into global private groups that will have defined their own membership rules. Much the same as in real life in most societies.
A supporting network of representatives and local committees will help manage the scalability, consistency and careful growth of the groups. It is surprising how many people are keen to help out in exchange for corresponding recognition and visibility. Dedication, expertise, and delegated authority is key to manage successful network proliferation.
I have always been drawn to strong connectors with large and diverse networks across many different interests. It is the ability to relate on a range of different areas that deepens and extends relationships. I would never have come up with these ventures, had I stuck to a network of banking professionals. I strongly believe in creating an exciting and diverse tapestry of relationships that enrich people in each of their own personal dimensions.
BestofallWorlds is focusing on what is relevant to you right now, not when you were in a different stage in life, living somewhere else, with somebody else, and in a different time.
It is about responding to a prevalent need that exists, as all successful businesses tend to do.
Q. I have been traveling the world for over 20 years and the part of ASW I find coolest (and most useful) is the Geolocator. Can you tell us about how this works, its uses, and if Best of All Worlds will offer this sort of a feature? If yes, do you see an even more enhanced version given the newer technology that exists today that did not exist a few years ago?
A. You said it yourself! Today we are in an era with geo-positioning technology and mobile apps. It’s very different from building something in 2003. Best of all Worlds will leverage all this new technology and give our users the ultimate access to this within the boundaries of the privacy settings of each user. Just wait and see!
Q. When I am on “A Small World” I sense two groups of people in the community. Maybe I’m wrong but I sense there is one group of people that are true players on the world stage or in their professional careers and a different group that looks like they were lucky enough to snag an invite and are somewhat out of place to some degree on ASW. Do you envision with “Best of All Worlds” both open and private groups such that you can build a much larger overall community yet allow invite-only groups to form where needed to better serve the needs of a particular community within the community?
A. You are absolutely on the right track. Just like in real life we will have intimate areas of privacy and at the same time allowing for more public spaces elsewhere. We will be aggregating people that share similar backgrounds, interests and passions. The focus will be on connecting with relevant people that bring you relevant information or experiences. Other networks are focusing primarily on the noise from the past.
Q. People will leave the home without their watch, but they won’t leave their home without their iPhone or Blackberry or Android….. Do you see Best of All Worlds doing anything in the mobile space?
A. We will be launching on most mobile platforms including the IPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows phone. Mobile platforms will be core for us.
Q. How can people learn more about Best of All Worlds or get on board?
Q. Just curious – what is your favorite airport, hotel, and restaurant anywhere in the world?
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
- The Park Hyatt in the Shanghai Financial Center
- L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris tied with Umu in London
Thank you Erik for your taking the time to provide some insight to your story and what coming next with Best of All Worlds.
Ed.Note: Best of All World was also covered in Scandinavian Startups.